Note For Anyone Writing About Me

Guide to Writing About Me

I am an Autistic person,not a person with autism. I am also not Aspergers. The diagnosis isn't even in the DSM anymore, and yes, I agree with the consolidation of all autistic spectrum stuff under one umbrella. I have other issues with the DSM.

I don't like Autism Speaks. I'm Disabled, not differently abled, and I am an Autistic activist. Self-advocate is true, but incomplete.

Citing My Posts

MLA: Hillary, Alyssa. "Post Title." Yes, That Too. Day Month Year of post. Web. Day Month Year of retrieval.

APA: Hillary, A. (Year Month Day of post.) Post Title. [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Monday, October 10, 2016

The absent minded professor

It wasn't exactly a secret to me that some professors are autistic. First off ... professors are a subset of humans, and therefore I would expect to meet some autistic professors. Then there's the bit where a really focused interest (in an area you can get a doctorate in) might come in handy for getting a PhD. Plus I'm pretty good at recognizing other autistic adults when I meet them, though they don't always know themselves.

It's even less of a secret (by which I mean it'd be pretty easy to deduce if you think about it, plus you could find out by listening to us) that academia is frequently inaccessible for autistic people. Department politics? UH-OH. Bureaucracy? UH-OH. Networking, and getting jobs in ways that may or may not have much to do with the "official" channels? UH-OH.

And yet.
Hans Asperger described some of us as "little professors." Why did he think we were like professors? Or, perhaps more to my point, why did he think professors were like us?

Neurodiversity in the academy.
We've been there all along. Or, some of us have.

Can you speak, at length, on your topic of interest?
Can you speak at all?
We might have use for you.

Do you look like the person we expect at university?
Enough that we'll deal with the bureaucracy for you?
We might have use for you.

Can you maintain the schedule we expect?
Even the graduate school version? And the adjunct version?
We might have use for you.

But that's not really neurodiversity, is it?
It's just moving the line.

The absent-minded professor may well be autistic. I've met a few who are.
But without solidarity from the ones who were always given a space, this supposed representation is nothing but Aspie elitism.
(I don't pretend that Aspie is a useful category, but elitism based around the idea that it is? For people presumed to fit there? Now, that is very real.)

Remember that the absent-minded professor we are shown is always a man, always white, usually at least middle aged.
The only allusion we get to autism as disability, and not purely (or even primarily) social, is that his wife might take care of him when he forgets to eat. Or he just doesn't take good care of himself.
Sensory processing issues? Who knows.
Executive functioning? I think that's why his wife is feeding him. Or maybe it explains the Rube Goldberg machine that makes a mess of the food but does provide something vaguely edible. Usually.
But it's always a him, and it's always his wife.

What about the autistic people who aren't a "him?"
Women. Nonbinary people.
What about the autistic people who don't have wives?
Who takes care of us, if it turns out that our living alone wasn't such a great idea after all?
Or do we just not get to be academics?

So here's to the ones who were never supposed to make it through.
Here's to the ones who didn't, because they weren't mean to.
The university might be a haven for some of us,
But without solidarity from those who were permitted
For those who never passed for consistently verbal white men who live on their own or found a woman to pick up the slack
Or even for the "close enough" of one difference away,
It's only ever another aspie elitist wrong planet to build a home on.

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